In Praise of the Great Flat White

flatwhite

I’d heard about Flat Whites before I visited Australia—they’re the country’s signature coffee drink. But, some of you may remember I went “off” coffee and caffeine for my trip, so I never got a chance to drink one while I was there. (Don’t worry; I won’t make that mistake again.)

Once back in the States and back on the black fuel, I learned about an Aussie coffee shop a few blocks from my office in Manhattan. The talk in the office was more about the cute baristas than about the coffee, but just the mention of Australia is often enough to get me out and about. And so, I went out one day for an afternoon cup at Bluestone Lane Coffee

The first sip of my first Flat White was…revelatory. Deeply, deeply satisfying. Such silkiness, such balance of milk and espresso, such richness and flavor mixed together in a blend of smooth and velvety goodness. Sigh. I was hooked.

I normally drink my coffee black, but the way the milk is whipped and frothed, it’s not “milky.” And yet it makes for a gentler afternoon cup—the milky velvet soothes some of the bitterness usually found with espresso. For the record, a Flat White is two shots of espresso combined with milk that is frothed just so. It is NOT a latte! It is also not sweet. It doesn’t need sugar.

But it is powerful stuff. I took a coworker who normally doesn’t drink an afternoon cup of coffee for one, and she ended up singing “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt” all afternoon. Good times! I confess I joined in.

So, I’ve been on a mission ever since. Laura Thierer, a wonderful woman who works in our cafeteria in Pennsylvania, has learned how to make a Flat White for me—all organic! AHHHHH! She sees me coming between 1:30 and 3:00 on any given workday and knows exactly what I want; I adore her.

And just this past weekend, I stopped at a Starbucks on my way home from New York (exit 33 on I-78) and a lovely young lady attempted to make one for me. It wasn’t perfect, but it was almost there. And the joy she took in trying—and I took in drinking it—was beyond wonderful. As I left, she promised she’d keep working on it so that next time it would be even better.

Oh, I’ll be back. I’ll be back. Flat White, I love you.

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9 Responses to In Praise of the Great Flat White

  1. robin March 12, 2014 at 7:25 am #

    You “went off coffee” for awhile?
    OMG-that’s ugly. Welcome back.

    One of my favorite Maria Rodale quotes ( from an ~Organic Manifesto~ presentation Q&A) is ” I’ll be locavore when we start growing coffee beans in Bucks County” (I paraphrase your comment here 😉 ). It replaced by usual response~
    ” I’d rather support an organic farmer in NJ than a conventional farmer who is poisoning my water here.”
    The black gold (or flat white) always inspires a rare moment of universal agreement.

  2. penelope wagmeyer March 12, 2014 at 8:21 am #

    That coffee sounds like the café latte (sp?) I got in Italy. Heavenly! The “latte” we get here in the US is crap, imho.

  3. Maria L. March 12, 2014 at 9:06 am #

    This website explains the differences between the Flat White, the Latte and the Cappuccino…

    -Cappuccino: spoon the stiff froth into the cup and then top up with a pour from the jug.
    -Latte: pour the liquid milk from the jug with a spoon to hold back the froth and then top off with a dollop of froth.
    -Flat white: free pour for a mix of froth and liquid.

    http://www.coffeehunter.org/flat-white-vs-latte/

  4. Donna in Delaware March 12, 2014 at 10:16 am #

    ‘Tis true Penelope, crappy in the country. We could take lessons from the Europeans. The Germans make a good cuppa too! The Italians, well, that goes without saying! Keep enjoying the java!

  5. Alice Green March 12, 2014 at 12:03 pm #

    I sit here reading this with a cup of strong, black, dark roast, free trade coffee in my hand. And trying to imagine it being a Flat White, which I’ve never had, but will be dreaming about! Thanks.

  6. Sally Thierer March 12, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

    Thank you Maria for the lovely praise for my daughter Laura. I think she’s pretty wonderful too! I enjoy your blog. And now I have to try a flat white!

  7. Iced Green Tea Latte June 3, 2014 at 5:45 pm #

    Oh snap, thanks so much for posting this! I found the most amazing recipe for an Iced Green Tea Latte. You should really check it out, it was a piece of cake(lol). Very flavorful!

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  9. Tara January 19, 2016 at 11:00 pm #

    I think something overlooked about the flat white that makes it so great is the milk preparation itself. I think http://www.kitchensanity.com/coffee/flat-white-coffee/ points it out well that it must be fully steamed to microfoam and poured pretty precisely.

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